BY: SYDNEY MCINNIS
It’s so easy to fall into a monotonous routine. People lose sight of the importance of taking care of their body and psyche. Instead of falling into a hole that can be really hard to crawl out of, stop yourself. One way to change your path is through a collection of yoga poses called inversions.
An inversion is any yoga pose where your head is below your heart. You can start off really simply with poses like Dolphin Pose (Makarasana) or Supported Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana). These poses will still be challenging and you’ll feel your body working hard, but they are accessible to many people and are great for getting comfortable with the feeling of being upside down.
Once you’re comfortable with your world being flipped, you can move on to poses that allow you to get fully upside down, like the Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana), in which you use a wall for support. If you work on your core strength with certain exercises, you’ll actually be able to hold yourself up when doing inversions without flipping over and crashing on the floor. For the record, you’ll probably fall a couple – or a lot – of times anyway.
Putting on some good, upbeat music and flipping upside down is really fun and makes you feel like a child, but it also makes you feel strong. You’re defying gravity and using all of your body’s core strength to stop yourself from flopping onto the ground like a fish. Inversions strengthen parts of your body that you didn’t even know you could strengthen, and will grow the muscles in your upper body and core.
Gravity is a forceful thing. Over time, it weighs the body down – dragging fat down to the floor and making your heart tired from so many years of pumping blood through the same old maze. You can reverse some of gravity’s damage however, by practicing inversions.
According to Women’s Health, when you’re upside down, it’s harder to breathe, so it forces your diaphragm to get stronger which can improve lung functions during exercise. As well, inversions can help take pressure off of disks in your spine and strengthening your lower back will help avoid any pain that might occur in the future, says Dr. Allison Kivisto, a chiropractor in Windsor, On.
“When one inverts, tissue fluids of the lower extremities drain—far more effectively than when one is asleep. Areas of congestion clear,” says David Coulter, Ph.D. “If you can remain in an inverted posture for just three to five minutes, the blood will not only drain quickly to the heart, but tissue fluids will flow more efficiently into the veins and lymph channels of the lower extremities and of the abdominal and pelvic organs, facilitating a healthier exchange of nutrients and wastes between cells and capillaries.”
Not only is it amazing for your body, but for that head of yours too. When you come down from a headstand, you’ll be flooded with a feeling of ecstasy and clear-headedness. That’s because headstands stream the brain with freshly oxygenated blood, but also because you took time to just breathe and be still. How often do most humans take time to just be still? Not often enough. “Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure,” stated Harvard Health Publications.
Invert yourself however you choose, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. Paying attention to breathing deeply will help you actually stay upwards in an inversion because it will likely relax you, therefore stop you from overthinking or freaking out about being upside down. It’s simple. Inhale and exhale as deeply as possible. Stay up for short periods of time at first and focus on your body’s alignment. Approach the poses with respect and patience. Don’t expect yourself to be standing on your head within minutes – that isn’t realistic. Listen to your temple and you will benefit in so many ways. Surround the inversions with yoga flows, series of movements that go together, and make it into a daily practice. Most of all, get ready to feel refreshed and strong.